The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
November 2, 1998

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Issue - 15

ISSN: 1538-3202

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The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education legal issues, cases, tactics and strategy, educational methods that work, and Internet links.

We publish this newsletter occasionally, when time permits. Back issues of The Special Ed Advocate are archived at our web site -


As a subscriber to The Special Ed Advocate, you will receive announcements and "alerts" about new cases and other events. Contact, copyright, and subscription information can be found at the end of this newsletter.


(1) Patty from Michigan asks: "Why are my child’s IQ scores dropping?"

(2) Resources About Language Problems

(3) Links to Information About the "Matthew Effect"

(4) Janet from Maine writes: "My daughter’s IEP team insists on including her IQ scores – but they refuse to include results from the most recent testing. What does the law say about IQ test scores in the IEP?"

Pat from Michigan asks: Have you heard of a child's IQ dropping? This happened to my son and I’m concerned about it.
Paul is 13 years old. He has a Central Auditory Processing Disorder and ADHD. He is also color blind, left- handed (but not red headed) :-)
When he entered Kindergarten, his skills were about 6 months behind his peers. By second grade, he was about 1.5 year behind, by 4th grade he was 2.5 years behind. We had private tutoring which helped him gain skills and close the gap. He still has language problems, but after private tutoring, he is reading the 5th grade level.
On the most recent evaluation, his Full Scale IQ had dropped by 9 points! On his report cards, he gets average grades and we are told that is doing "just fine".
ANSWER: IQ test scores will vary some from evaluation to evaluation. In most cases, IQ scores don’t change dramatically unless there has been an unusual event (injury, trauma, etc.) When we see falling IQ test scores, we ask if this is due to the "Mathew Effect."
The "Matthew Effect" is a term coined by Keith Stanovich, a psychologist who has done extensive research on reading and language disabilities. The "Matthew Effect" refers to the idea that in reading (as in other areas of life), the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
When children with disabilities do not receive adequate remediation, they read less – and learn less from reading - than non-disabled children. Because some IQ sub-tests measure information learned from reading, poor readers will score lower on these sub-tests. Over years, the "gap" between poor readers and good readers grows.
The "Matthew Effect" was a key issue in James Brody’s case (see below for links).

James was found eligible for special education in 3rd grade. After three years of special education, he was re-tested. According to the new testing, his IQ dropped from 127 to xx. Two years later, James was re-tested again – his IQ had dropped even further – to xxx.
The experts testified that James’ dropping IQ test scores was due to the Matthew Effect and was evidence that James had not received appropriate remediation. The Administrative Law Judge and the Review Officer agreed and found that the school district had not provided James with an appropriate education.


Several books in the Advocate’s Bookstore focus on childhood language problems:

Childhood Speech, Language, and Listening Problems: What Every Parent Should Know by Patricia McAleer Hamaguchi.

Words Fail Me: How Language Works and What Happens When It Doesn't. In Words Fail Me, Priscilla Vail explores the links between reading, writing, listening and speaking, how these skills are learned, and what happens in the process breaks down.



We forwarded Pat’s question to Dr. Margaret Kay, psychologist from Pennsylvania.

Dr. Kay suggested this link for more information about the Matthew Effect:



Jan from Maine writes: Our daughter, Sandra, is an 11th grade student with speech language processing problems. She is 17 years old and we are working on her 15th IEP!

This year, the IEP team is including the results of a WISC-III that was done in 1996. This is the first time that IQ scores have been included on her IEP. I questioned the need to include these scores on the IEP and have an article which states that the child’s IQ scores should not be included on the IEP. My daughter’s IEP team insists.

I have some concerns. First, the results of the 1996 WISC-III differ greatly from prior evaluations. Her Verbal, Performance and Full Scale IQ scores declined dramatically. Two months ago (in August 1998), we had an independent evaluation done. The results of the August 1998 evaluation are more in line with prior testing. Because the IEP team insists that IQ test results must be included in the IEP, we asked that the results of the 1998 evaluation be cited.

The IEP team is questioning the private evaluator's findings. They are unwilling to record the 1998 evaluation results as most current. The did agree to include some written information from the private evaluator’s report because they feel it is "interesting."

I have scoured your site but am unable to find any information about

IQ test results on an IEP. HELP!

We are concerned that if the IQ test results (Verbal, Performance & Full Scale IQ scores, none of the sub-test scores) are included on the IEP, those working with Sandra will have lower expectations and she will be treated as a 'slow learner'.

P.S. Your 'site' is fantastic. I can't believe I just 'hit' on it yesterday. THANK YOU!

ANSWER: Since the IEP team is refusing to include your child's most recent test scores in IEP, write the IEP team a nice polite letter. Discuss your daughter’s recent evaluation. Include the new test results if you want. Tell the IEP team that you would like them to attach your letter to your child’s IEP as a "parent amendment."

In your letter, include information that you think your daughter’s teachers should have. Did you know that Wechsler IQ scores are not a true measure of intelligence? These IQ scores are composites of several sub-test scores. The sub-tests often measure the adverse impact of the disability on the child’s achievement.

You are right to be concerned about low expectations in special education.

Many parents of high school students are concerned about their child’s transition from high school to "life after school." We have added a new book, The Complete Guide to Special Education Transition Services (by Roger Pierangelo and Rochelle Crane) to the Advocate’s Bookstore.

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